I started working on router tables many years ago, but let me say they weren’t much ? just a board that we screwed a down-side-up router to. Often the tops would have some left-over plastic laminate contact cemented in place and that was about the end of our “engineering”. Primitive, but practical. CMT’s newest router table has just one thing in common with those nascent models of my past. It is quite practical. However, it is far from primitive.
I learned more about the new era of router tables when toolmaker Marc Sommerfeld and CMT Marketing Manager Dan Sherman stopped by recently and demonstrated their newest router table. I was positively impressed. The Devil and the design are in the details and this offering is detail rich.
On the Top
Quality material is one key to the success of this big orange table. Beginning with the top, which is made of solid 3/4″ thick phenolic material (strong enough to stop bullets, according to Sommerfeld), industrial quality material choices were made all along the way. Into this very stable top is machined an opening for a series of interlocking aluminum rings, each allowing access for various diameter router bits. That reminded me more of a shaper than a router table. Your router is mounted (by means of a special centering tool – included with the table) into a recessed area in the bottom of the top. And this leads to my one negative critique: the table works far better when it comes to changing out router bits with some routers more than with others. CMT has manufactured special wrenches that work great with the Hitachi and Porter-Cable routers. If you are not using either of those models, it will be a little more awkward to change your bits. I’m guessing that more wrenches are in the works. It would only make sense, but it is just a guess at this point.
There is a miter gauge slot (actually an additional aluminum extrusion which bolts onto the front edge of the top) that compliments the top’s heavy-duty design.
The fence reminds me of a plastic bag commercial (hefty, hefty, hefty), as it is extruded aluminum of substantial dimension combined with heavy-duty plastic sub-fences. This fence and its components adjust in a bunch of useful ways. The zero clearance center sub-fence is very useful, as is the easily shimmed out-feed fence. There are T-grooves and a dust port as well. It also has a pivoting feature that really makes changing paired-use bits (like stile and rail sets) a snap.
The cabinet on which the top assembly rests has storage and adjustable legs ? for those rare uneven shop floors. As you might have gathered, this router table is not a featherweight; Its complete unit shipping runs at around 117 lbs. And for me, that is a positive factor. If I have a 3 horsepower router spinning a sizable router bit, I’d prefer to have the table sit still while I’m using it. It is annoying to chase it around the shop and maybe even unsafe!
A Question of Policy
I must admit that it is against magazine policy for me to take home the test samples that manufacturers leave with us. And even though the router tables I have at my house are no where near as useful as CMT’s ? I simply can’t go against that policy. But I do wonder just how long I can “test” a sample without raising any eyebrows. I mean, in four or five years, I should have a pretty solid idea of just how good this router table is ? don’t you think?